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© APRIL 10, 2005 

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Snow Arrives at
Joshua Tree

Thanksgiving weekend 2004

Written by Brian Ratliff  

Mom and Dad (Al and Lynn Ratliff) arrived out there Wednesday afternoon and I got a message on my phone to bring out the plow. We arrived later Wednesday night. The moon was full that evening and the snow that covered the higher elevations of the hills surrounding the Morongo Valley made for an interesting view on our trip to the club.

Thursday morning dawned clear and it promised to be a warm day. After installing #5's pilot plow on the #8, (my Allen 2-6-0 has been down ten years now) a doubled Kozo Hiesler. My brother Greg, the machinist, made quick work of figuring out an adapter from one pilot beam to the other. In short time a full head of steam was achieved and a run to clear the line was undertaken. A lot of the 12 to 18 inches of snow that fell last weekend had melted away, but up to 8 inches remained in the cuts and shaded spots around the grounds. All movements of #8 were well documented by the rail fans on site (Greg and Dad). The upper loop was cleared with a few attempts, as bucking snow gets it's name. The straight section behind the patio was about 5 to 7 inches deep in spots and you certainly had to use some throttle to get through it, even though it is a two and a half percent downgrade in that area. After breaks in the action to allow film reloading the station clearing commenced. The snow on the shady side of the station was the deepest, about 8 inches over the rails. After quite a few runs at the blockage, paths were cleared on both outer tracks, leaving the center track for later. Greg got the throttle for the high line job, only snow left there was before the bridge but it was plenty deep. And the grade there is four percent tapering off to two and a half . Dad actually ran the Heisler to clear the center track of the station. He said regarding the plow, I've got get one of these on my next engine.

Joel Tedder said you couldn't buck snow with a 7-1/2" gauge engine. I'm happy to report he was mistaken.  It was a blast. It's been 24 years since the track had been started out there and it was worth the wait to clear the line with a snow plow on the 7 1/2".

We'll be keeping the plow on #8 through the winter just in case.


Written by Brian Ratliff  


Al Ratliff getting in pretty deep.

Plow at work_4_1_small.JPG
A job for a geared locomotive. #8 Hiesler with plow.

Author Brian Ratliff "bucks" the snow.

Greg Ratliff clears the high line.

Al enjoys the newly cleared track on an Artzberger "Plymouth Switcher".



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